Liverpool passed a stern test in their quest for Premier League invincibility as they beat a plucky Tottenham side 1-0.
The Reds, marching towards a first league title since 1990, took another step closer to matching Arsenal's 2003/04 achievement thanks to Roberto Firmino's first-half strike.
It took their winning run to 12 matches and they are now undefeated in their last 38 games, going back to January 3, 2019 - a period in which they have won an astonishing 104 points.
That defeat to Manchester City proved pivotal in last season's title race but it will take a miracle for them to miss out again as they continue to sweep aside all before them with a 20th win from 21 games.
The points tally of 61 represents the best start to a campaign of any team in the history of Europe's top five leagues.
Losing to this Liverpool team is no disgrace, but Spurs were worthy of a point as they asked tough questions of Jurgen Klopp's men after the break.
They had two big chances to claim a draw and how they would have wished for Harry Kane in their side as Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso inexplicably missed the target.
But it was back-to-back league defeats for Jose Mourinho's side and - depleted by injuries - the top four is now looking a tough ask, sitting nine points behind Chelsea.
- Jurgen Klopp
"First and foremost the result is the most important thing. One team deserved to win and that was us. To win at Tottenham is pretty special. That the game wasn’t decided after 50-60 minutes was our fault. We had big chances and didn’t score with them.
"It was hectic and very intense for us. You can expect them to defend deep in this stadium, but it was 4-6-0 in the first half. If it was easy to win here, a lot more teams would do it.
"One part of the game is the result and I’m over the moon about the result, but we have to talk about the performance. We should have scored more goals - that’s the truth. We have to be honest with ourselves. We could have scored more and we have to, especially against a team like Tottenham."
- Jose Mourinho
"Yesterday we spent half an hour defending throw-ins and we lost the game on the throw-in. I think the refs did a very good job, but the assistant on the opposite side didn’t see that Mane touched the ball [in the build-up to the goal].
"We have to try to create a buzz to compete with a team as good as they are. I think we deserved more. We intensified the pressure more in the second half. We were more aggressive.
"I told you they would win the league when they beat Manchester City three or four months ago. They were lucky – they could have conceded a goal and got a red card for Robertson's challenge."
- Gary Neville
"It’s a huge win, although they were a little sloppy in the second half. They are outstanding. And doing everything a championship winning team should be doing. I can’t see anyone stopping them."
Quotes via Sky Sports
Assessing Tanganga's debut
Jose Mourinho sprung a surprise by handing rookie defender Japhet Tanganga a Premier League debut for Tottenham.
Mourinho chose the visit of the leaders to pitch in a 20-year-old whose only previous appearance was in the shock Carabao Cup defeat by Colchester. Here, the PA News agency runs the rule over Tanganga's performance...
Tanganga lined up on the right of a back-three alongside Davinson Sanchez and captain Toby Alderweireld, with Serge Aurier and Danny Rose as wing-backs in an ultra-defensive line-up from Mourinho. He switched to the left of the three midway through the second half.
Having come through the youth ranks, Tanganga has had to be patient for his chance, so to be thrust in against the fearsome Liverpool attack must have been daunting. Yet a firm tackle to rob Sadio Mane and a strong charge forward showed the youngster was not suffering from stage-fright, even though he ended up with a hefty whack on the head for his troubles.
Immediate. Just four minutes had elapsed when Tanganga slid in to block Roberto Firmino's goalbound shot on the line, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smacked the follow up against the post. It was a crucial intervention so early. However, he was given the slip by Firmino for Liverpool's opening goal shortly before half-time and almost let Mane in on goal after the break.
Learning curves for a defender do not come much steeper than Mohamed Salah, Mane and Firmino but Tanganga stood up to the challenge well. If he was Mourinho's 'bus' then the number 39 was clean, reliable, had a good engine and was hardly ever late.
- Liverpool have won 61 points in the Premier League in 2019-20 - the most any side has ever registered after 21 games in a single season across Europe's big five leagues (assuming 3pts/win).
- Liverpool have accrued 104 points across their last 38 Premier League matches (W33 D5 L0); this is a record total by any team across a 38-match spell in the competition’s history, overtaking 102-point stretches by Man City (ending in 2018) and Chelsea (2005).
- Tottenham Hotspur have conceded 20 goals in 13 matches in all competitions under José Mourinho; it took Mourinho’s Chelsea side 44 games before shipping their 20th goal during his first spell in England as a manager in the 2004-05 season.
- This is Liverpool's joint-best scoring run from the start of a season in English top-flight history, with the Reds also scoring in their opening 21 games in 1933-34.
- Liverpool have now gone 38 Premier League games without defeat (W33 D5); since their last league loss at Man City in January 2019, Tottenham have lost 16 Premier League matches by comparison, including three to the Reds.
- Tottenham have lost back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season, having last done so in May 2019, while this is the first time their manager José Mourinho has lost consecutive games in the competition since August 2018 as Manchester United boss.
- Liverpool have kept six consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since December 2006 (seven).
- Roberto Firmino has scored five goals in his last six games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 30 appearances for the Reds before this run.
AS IT HAPPENED: Tottenham 0-1 Liverpool (Firmino)
Blog by George Pitts
1924: FULL-TIME - Tottenham 0-1 Liverpool
The Reds hold on. Somehow. To the clean sheet and to all three points. Unbeaten in 38, 20 Premier League wins in 20 games.
Wow. Champions elect, surely.
Thanks for joining us for coverage this evening. Stay here for the report and check out Sporting Life for more reaction from Klopp, Mourinho, Solskjaer and Arteta.
Enjoy the rest of your evening and weekend - here's what is coming up on Sunday:
1922: Action shot - Mourinho cannot believe it
1921: Son shoots (0-1)
Son comes in from the right and powers a left-footed shot down the middle. Alisson makes it look easy, it probably wasn't.
1919: Here comes Shaqiri (0-1)
Salah off. Run. Down. That. Clock. We see you, Jurgen!
1918: Lamela chance (0-1)
Lamela turns away from Liverpool men in the middle to create space from 20 yards, he shoots and pulls his foot across it, striking low and it was gratefully gathered by Alisson. Liverpool holding on and Spurs still pushing, you would imagine the leaders can see this one out now though. Around three minutes of stoppage time added on.
At the other end, Origi shows good feet but slides the ball into Gazzaniga's path.
1910: Huge miss! (0-1)
Mourinho cannot believe it, hugging the fourth official, while Klopp is furious.
Aurier's cross to the far post finds Lo Celso at the far post, whose finish is poor and across the face of goal. Wow. He should have at least hit the target there.
First Son, then Lo Celso, they cannot waste any more chances. It could have been two!
1908: Klopp and Lijnders don't look pleased (0-1)
A lapse from Liverpool has given Spurs the ascendancy and the crowd can sense it. Origi replaces Mane on 81 minutes.
1902: Huge chance for Son! (0-1)
Another Liverpool mistake, this time Wijnaldum, sees Spurs attack at pace and Son fires over in the box. A massive opportunity, Mourinho knows it and Spurs fans know it. Around 15 minutes plus added time to go.
1856: Mourinho acts (0-1)
A long time since his first start, Danny Rose is replaced by Erik Lamela. Giovani Lo Celso comes on for Christian Eriksen, who is jeered by sections of the home crowd due to his contract issues.
Positive move by Mourinho, who looks to have switched to a 4-3-3.
1852: Gazzaniga saves (0-1)
It really is opening up and Gazzaniga gets a strong hand to Mane's header. Fans aren't happy at Robertson's follow through on Tanganga in the follow-up. VAR takes a look but decides that is was a genuine 50/50.
1845: Liverpool warning signs (0-1)
Alli goes himself, runs through the centre and Liverpool look on the ropes with Gomez out of position. Van Dijk eventually slides quite eratically, takes out Alli and gets a foot to the ball.
The Reds looked rarely rocked and it's fired up the crowd. They just need to make sure they do not leave themselves open at the back - Firmino just shot straight at Gazzaniga. Interesting contest ahead.
1837: Reds' first chance of the half (0-1)
Dangerous attack by Liverpool, they have bodies in the box and the ball gets away from Salah but falls kindly for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who pulls a shot well wide and nearly out for a throw-in.
1832: Here we go (0-1)
The second half is back underway - can Spurs get back into it? Stick with us to find out.
1831: Sky Bet Price Boost
Roberto Firmino to score a brace - 5/1
Son Heung-min to score the 2nd goal - 10/1
Serge Aurier to be carded - 9/2
1818: HALF-TIME - Tottenham 0-1 Liverpool
Firmino's finish gives the league leaders the advantage at the break. Can Spurs get back into it? They look dangerous going forward but to sit so deep and keep the Reds out with their defence is a tough ask.
Let's see if Jose Mourinho can work his magic...
1817: Goal replay
1812: Salah shoots (0-1)
A trademark run by Salah, mazing in from the right before a typical left-footed dipping effort which goes wide. A great chance and he should really have been working Gazzaniga a bit more. By his standards.
1807: GOAL! Tottenham 0-1 Liverpool (Firmino)
No surprise with Spurs defending so deep and Liverpool creating chances. After a quick throw from the left into the box, it is scrappy before falling kindly for Firmino who makes no mistake.
There's a VAR check for handball by Henderson as he battled Alli for the ball, but the goal is given. Cue fans on social media saying 'LiVARpool'...
It would definitely have been harsh to rule that one out. The amount of replays needed show just that. What now for Tottenham?
1806: Mane goes close (0-0)
The Reds star is found in the box but his volleyed effort goes into the ground first and bounces over the bar. Around 10 to go until the break.
1759: Sweeper keeper (0-0)
Van Dijk and Gomez drift well into Spurs' half and the ball over the top sees a footrace ensue with Lucas Moura.
Moura's compatriot Alisson was already well off his line and came rushing out to clear just short of the centre circle. Played.
Moura and co. causing Liverpool issues at times.
1755: Tangana's block (0-0)
1752: Gazzaniga saves! (0-0)
An overhit corner falls to Mo Salah at the far post who cannot find space to shoot, instead crossing to the far post where Virgil van Dijk has a free header from around four yards.
The Dutchman's header lacks power and is straight at Spurs' stand-in stopper, who reacts well from point-blank range.
1747: Liverpool finding their feet (0-0)
Spurs struggling to get out of their own half in the last couple of minutes. Liverpool finding space but when the ball goes near the box the hosts are dealing with it well.
1742: Alli breaks free (0-0)
The England playmaker bursts through the middle and has Liverpool's central defensive partnership scrambling. It looks to strike him in the hand in a similar way to Declan Rice's for West Ham last night, with the defender striking the ball towards his hand, and Alli then fires high and wide.
The hosts are sitting deep with as much as a back six at some points. They have had chances at the other end though and Liverpool often concede so the 8/13 price on Spurs finding the back of the net at some stage looks tempting at this point.
1737: Moura tries his luck (0-0)
Moura looks lively, with quick feet and intensity, coming inside from the left and pulling a low shot just wide of the post from around 20 yards. Without Kane he could be key and the Brazilian is 3/1 with Sky Bet to score anytime.
Spurs soon make a pacy counter after catching Liverpool in possession, this time Son curling a shot wide. The hosts look dangerous on the break.
1733: Early chance! (0-0)
What a start for the debutant Tanganga, making a goal-line block to deny Firmino and then Oxlade-Chamberlain pounces on a loose ball before sending the ball crashing into the post.
Here we go in north London, let's hope for a cracker.
1727: Pre-match thoughts
It is a huge evening for Spurs' Japhet Tanganga.
The 20-year-old, from Hackney, makes his Premier League debut in the left-centre of defence and he could be in for an educational 90 minutes.
His only previous senior app was v Colchester in the Carabao Cup in September.
1725: Kick-off approaching
An impressive light show at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The first time Liverpool have played here.
1720: Pundit predictions - Phil Thompson says...
"Without Harry Kane, on top of some of the other injuries, if you are a top player and you are worth your place in the Premier League, you will respond. You will respond to your club and that way you will get the best out of them.
"When Kane has been out before, you have seen players step up, particularly Heung-min Son, and it made people think that Kane was not as missed as much.
"As for Liverpool, this is the big game that against Tottenham, they have been stung by before. There are times where we have played very well too, so it is one of the tough ones that you look at, and Liverpool have to be at it.
"Tottenham will come out of the blocks, and Jose Mourinho will have them rallied, as with every team he has managed against Liverpool. Liverpool have to be ready."
- Key battle?
"It has to be in midfield. Who will play for Tottenham as Moussa Sissoko is out? Will it be Eric Dier and Harry Winks?
"They are a bit similar and there is no real attacking thrust from them. The energy of the Liverpool midfield three will be a big factor in the game, and the positioning of Roberto Firmino too.
"If he starts getting between the lines, and the midfield players do not do their jobs, that can be the influence on the game. That midfield area will be the big one for me."
Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Liverpool (12/1 with Sky Bet)
1718: Pundit predictions - Charlie Nicholas says...
"It is a cracking game. Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko are out. Jose Mourinho never makes injuries an excuse, but he knows they are in a struggle with the availability, which he has come out and said. That sounds like an excuse!
"Liverpool are rolling along like a beautiful train. Every player is thriving, but not everyone is playing brilliantly. Jurgen Klopp was spot on when he said they could improve - if the front three hit form at the same time they will blow teams away.
"Sadio Mane has been the Player of the Year for me as it stands right now. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are still chipping in, the midfield is doing their job, and the defence is nowhere near as good, although the two full backs have been unstoppable.
"If you block the wide areas, you force them to go through the middle. Jose has always been the manager who will get a result from this sort of game. He will block the wide areas and will highlight where the real dangers lie.
"He may play Lucas Moura down the middle and Heung-min Son out the left, and try to bring in players to counter-attack and block the path of the full backs. It will not stop the title march; it may deflect it for a while but I think Liverpool will be happy with a point from this.
"It will be an away performance from Tottenham in this one, but it is the only way you can stop them."
Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Liverpool (13/2 with Sky Bet)
1716: Sky Bet Price Boosts
- Mane 2+ shots on target and Van Dijk 2+ tackles - 8/1
- Heung-min Son and Mohamed Salah both to score in 90 mins - 15/2
- Tottenham to win 2-0 - 33/1
1712: Pre-match tip
We are going for...
Spurs have only won one of their last 14 league games against the Reds and Klopp’s outfit just don’t look like losing,
Liverpool have also rediscovered their defensive nous over the last four games, keeping five straight league clean sheets and eight out of ten in all competitions.
Combine that with the expectation Mourinho will park the bus and go defensive, plus Harry Kane's absence then Spurs' attacking opportunities could be very limited.
1707: Tottenham team news
Tottenham make five changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Southampton in their last league game on New Year’s Day.
Davinson Sanchez, Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Son Heung-min all return, while young defender Japhet Tanganga is handed his Premier League debut.
Tottenham: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose, Tanganga, Winks, Eriksen, Alli, Moura, Son
Subs: Vorm, Vertonghen, Lamela, Dier, Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Skipp
1705: Liverpool team news
Liverpool make just one change to the team that beat Sheffield United 2-0 on 2 January, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing the injured James Milner in midfield.
New signing Takumi Minamino could make his league debut for the club after being named on the bench.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Subs: Adrian, Minamino, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi, Phillips, Williams
1703: Key stats
- Tottenham have won just one of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D4 L9), winning 4-1 at Wembley in October 2017.
- After a run of five consecutive away defeats against Tottenham between 2008-2012, Liverpool have lost just one of their six Premier League visits to Spurs (W3 D2).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games in London (W5 D3), winning the last three in a row. The Reds haven’t won four consecutive league games in the capital since October 1989.
- Spurs manager José Mourinho has won just two of his 10 games against Jürgen Klopp in his managerial career (20%) – among the 114 managers he’s faced more than twice, only against Ronald Koeman (17%, 1 win in 6) does he have a worse win ratio.
Good evening, what a game we have coming up at 1730 GMT, as Liverpool go to Tottenham.
How will Spurs setup without Harry Kane, will Liverpool continue their excellent season or will a defeat finally come?
Find out with us with our live blog...
Odds correct at time of publication on 11/01/19
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